University of Miami professor researches health impacts from algae

For many in Southwest Florida, living with algae has become the new normal.

For Cape Coral resident Charlene Borys, it’s become her new nightmare.

“We’re being gassed here with a neurotoxin,” Borys said. “I mean, think about it! This is not healthy!”

Borys has ashthma, and says the fumes from the algae in her Cape Coral canal have left her dependent on a nebulizer.

Her husband has put shrink wrap over the doors and windows in their home to keep the smell out, but Borys says the algae is still having an impact.

“It finally got to where I had to go to the doctor and say ‘what is happening with me?'” Borys said.

Dr. Larry Brand, a professor in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami, studies a neurotoxin found in the blue-green algae called “BMAA.”

“And there’s increasing evidence now that it can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and ALSDR,” Dr. Brand said.

Now he’s researching if those same effects can be felt just by breathing in the algae.

“The research I’m doing right now is trying to determine if this BMAA gets into the air. I think it does, but we haven’t done the definitive study so we’re working on that right now,” Dr. Brand said. “I myself would recommend that people avoid breathing the air near these blooms as much as possible.”

Borys says she doesn’t think the state has done enough to warn people.

“We’ve posted hundreds of signs, sent out multiple press releases and have staff in communities every day educating Floridians,” the Florida Department of Health said in a statement.

WINK News asked to tag along on one of those education missions, the email went unanswered.

Borys fears the algae will soon force her out of her home.

“Eventually Richard and I are going to have to leave this house. Just like everybody else,” Borys said. “Because we can’t stay here! We cant breathe!”

Reporter:Oliver Redsten
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